The KMT Revives Memories of its Blacklist

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Thursday June 26, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Those who know Taiwan history, know well of the infamous blacklist created by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) during the period of White Terror. This list was used to suppress any form of dissent or challenges to the KMT's monopolistic rule and image. Its main purpose was intimidation and the victims were not only Taiwanese but even foreigners. Anyone who expressed a dissident view or took a dissident position was put on the list and banned from entering the country. Some were even listed because they checked out library books overseas that the KMT did not think proper. What many do not realize however, is that although martial law ended in 1987, the KMT continued to keep and update this blacklist for another five years until 1992. So now that democracy is finally here in Taiwan is all this past? Not on your life.

The old KMT is back. Feeling the power of controlling not only the Legislative Yuan but also the presidency of Taiwan, the KMT is once again striving to bring back its means to control dissent. This time, the listing is more subtle, but it is already seen in the field of academics and the first victim is Chuang Kuo-rong a professor at National Chengchi University.

Chuang is the former Ministry of Education's secretary-general and has been a long outspoken critic of the KMT. In his former position he did not hesitate to call a spade a spade and to bring up the hypocrisy of Taiwan's newly elected president, the image-seeking Ma Ying-jeou. While Ma has always tried to cloak himself with a mantle of innocence and pious upbringing, Chuang has pointed out inconsistencies. One was how Ma's father, Ma Ho-ling, took advantage of his adopted daughter for sexual purposes and how no family members seemed to oppose him. Another was how Ma himself was a student informer in the USA and had ruined the family hopes of many Taiwanese by causing them to be put on the KMT blacklist.

The language that Chuang used in his statements was coarse and to the point, and while some have questioned and objected to its tone, none disputed the subject matter of which he spoke. Herein, lay the fault of Chuang Kuo-rong; he violated what the KMT wanted to establish as a new taboo area for Taiwanese. Taiwanese are not to criticize the KMT and dispute its image or that of any of its members.

Thus, to carry this out, National Chengchi University has been asked to be the first executioner. The university has refused to renew the contract of Chuang Kuo-rong because of what he said when he was secretary-general. Allegedly certain anonymous parents have complained about their children being subjected to teaching by such a man as Chuang. This bears examination.

In actuality, Chuang's students appreciate his teaching. Further, it is questionable as to how sheltered these students are or how sheltered their parents may pretend that they are. Chuang has not used any such language in the classroom; what he said was spoken before at the time he was the secretary-general of the Ministry of Education. Certainly today's students hear much worse language on TV, in the movies, and on the street.

Students also regularly hear much worse spoken in Taiwan politics. There the public is constantly bombarded by the innuendos, rumors and false accusations spewed forth by KMT party members like Chiu Yi. Compared to Chuang, Chiu Yi is a scavenger jackal, who hides behind the immunity of his legislative position to tell whatever lies he may dream up. Further, other KMT members including Ma Ying-jeou have uttered veiled and unveiled death threats against the past DPP president Chen Shui-bian. So now we are asked to believe that Chuang is the real dangerous scandal to Taiwan's youth?

The singling out of Chuang is clearly selective, arbitrary, and politically motivated. What he said has been printed publicly in the press and no one has yet denied that Ma's father did not abuse his adopted daughter. Chuang's only crime seems to be that he said in public what the KMT does not want spoken.

As if to mollify this blacklisting, Ma Ying-jeou and other KMT have expressed the thought that even though Chuang is denied a contract at National Chengchi University, he can still be eligible to teach at other universities. This is like saying, we are blacklisting you at one university but for now leaving the others open. In truth, Chuang is being cast as a pariah. The end result is the same. Ma's explanation can be compared to cutting off a man's hand and saying, See how kind I am, I am still leaving you the use of your other hand and two feet.

For Taiwanese, with a memory, this is the tip of the iceberg. The old KMT seeks to come back and exploit its new position. Though the KMT received only 54 per cent of the vote in the last legislative elections, by gerrymandering and other means they were able to control of 75 per cent of legislative seats. With the advantage of this disproportionate representation, the KMT is now emboldened. The first signs already appeared when during the presidential election, four KMT legislators took it on themselves to force their way into Frank Hsieh's campaign headquarters like storm troopers to administer their form of political justice. The banishing of Chuang Kuo-rong has followed. The only way such abuses of power were stopped in the past was to take to the streets; Taiwanese may have to consider that again.